Africa’s allure lies in its wide, open spaces and game-packed reserves. Many travel to this wild continent to get as far as possible from cities and buildings, people and noise. They come to seek out herds of elephant roaming free under a vast, blue sky; to feel their hearts beat faster as they watch a lion stalk its prey and to let life’s everyday niggles slot back into perspective in ink-black nights lit by the stars of the Milky Way.
The world was transfixed when Nelson Mandela was finally released to freedom in 1990 after 27 years in jail for his role in the struggle to overcome apartheid. Twenty-three years later, in 2013, the eyes and cameras of the world were once again on South Africa as this former president, Nobel Peace Prize winner, statesman and father figure to millions was laid to rest. None of us will ever again have the opportunity of interacting with this great-yet-humble man but we can visit some of the places that shaped his life and that are indelibly connected with his story.
As one of the youngest major cities in the world – it was founded in 1886 – and with almost half the population under the age of 30, it’s no surprise that Johannesburg is home to some of South Africa’s most exciting and innovative street art.
Being from Cape Town we like to think that we live in the land of eternal sunshine – most Capetonians do. This isn’t too far from the truth as Cape Town's winters are peppered with occasional moments of glorious sunshine. And we're not talking about a feeble, washed-out winter sun but rich, golden days with warm colours, pleasant temperatures and no wind that makes for perfect hiking weather!
There is so much to see and do at Babylonstoren – a deluxe working farm hotel in the Franschhoek Winelands – that’s best to arrive with some sort of plan. This is how we’d spend 48 hours at this very unique accommodation.
Africa's undisputed gourmet capital, Cape Town rolls out a feast for every sense. We've gathered together our favourite favourites in this video, from the city's cafe culture of artisan coffee roasters to the inspired menu of a Cape Winelands treasure set in heavenly gardens, from the decadence of pure chocolate to a pedigreed high tea and, finally, a signature cocktail at our favourite spot to admire the setting sun.
Book a window seat if you’re flying into Cape Town for the first time: the bird’s-eye view of the Mother City’s natural beauty deserves the chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ it elicits from arriving visitors. Accessible and easy to enjoy, the city’s mountains and beaches are its primary natural attractions, but there are hidden gems on the wilder side of this peninsula. Underwater forests, rugged hiking trails and great white shark enounters all lie within sight of Cape Town.
Robben Island, lying off the coast of Cape Town, is part of a long list of islands known primarily for being prisons. But, unlike Rikers and Alcatraz, its history has seen it go from being a leper colony, to a thriving 19th century ‘town’ complete with a school and post office, to a notorious penitentiary, and now a must-see travel destination studded with historical buildings and home to a flock of adorable but highly endangered African penguins.
The Company’s Gardens date back to the 1600s and are the raison d’etre for Cape Town. Looking for a way to the East Indies - the source of spices, silks, tea and porcelain for Europe - the Dutch East India Company chose a route around the tip of Africa. The journey took months and sailors were at severe risk of scurvy from a lack of fresh produce. So the Company sent some employees to the Cape of Storms and told them to start a vegetable patch. More than three centuries later, that ‘vegetable patch’ is now a green lung in a cosmopolitan city that bustles with workers, sightseers, squirrels and hadedahs (what South Africans call sacred ibises). Easily walkable in a morning or an afternoon, there is plenty to see and do in and around the Company’s Gardens.
Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula have two glittering coastlines with a beach to suit every mood and moment. Whether you're after buzzing beachside bars, secluded coves, safe swimming beaches or a romantic spot for a sunset picnic, our guide to Cape Town’s best beaches will point you in the right direction.